An artists impression of the Juice spacecraft with it's solar panels stretching out
Artist's impression of the Juice spacecraft
Credit: ESA

Juice is one of the European Space Agencies' spacecraft. It stands for the Jupiter Icy Moons Explorer. It launched into space in April 2023 on board a rocket ship. 

Juice is on a complicated 8-year-long journey to reach Jupiter. When it arrives in 2031, it will begin studying the planet and its moons. It is looking for signs of water and habitability. Juice wants to learn all it can about the Jupiter system to see if it helps understand planets outside our Solar System.

Juice will need to get boosts in its orbit to reach Jupiter. It will do this by sweeping around planets in the inner Solar System. First, it will make a flyby of the Earth and Moon in 2024, then Venus in 2025, followed by two more of Earth in 2026 and 2029. Along the way, it will pass through the asteroid belt twice. Here it will try to take images of some of the rocky objects within it.

When it gets to Jupiter, Juice will fly by Ganymede, Callisto and Europa, three of its moons. It will then go into orbit around Ganymede in later 2034. When the spacecraft runs out of fuel, the plan is to crash the probe into the moon's surface.

The probe will look at Jupiter's magnetic field. It will also look at the oceans under all 3 of the moon's solid crusts. It will take maps of the surface of the moons and look for signs of being able to support life.

It has many instruments on board to take images, carry out spectroscopy and look at the magnetism and particles surrounding Jupiter and its moons. It also has many tools to ensure it can talk to the scientists on Earth and send back all the information it finds out.